Published Jan 01, 2006For most independent Canadian bands, a trip to the U.S. for their first cross-border gig is something to remember. It's also something that's usually well planned, with required papers and work permits filled out in advance. But for Toronto renegade melodic punkers Mugshot, their first U.S. experience will be more memorable for how poorly planned yet incredibly productive it was. Call it guerrilla touring.
Having won an opportunity to play on a side stage at the Barrie, Ontario stop of the Warped Tour in early August through an online competition, the quartet ended up crashing three more dates.
"It was a crazy way to start touring in the U.S.," admits bassist/mouthpiece Nick Keays. "It gave us a little bit of a false impression because it was the Warped Tour and it was our first real taste of touring, doing consecutive dates that are far apart."
After a night of drinking following the Barrie show, the band decided on a whim (or an alcohol fuelled lapse in judgment) to drive to Detroit and try to "scam" their way onto a stage there. After convincing a surprisingly receptive and sympathetic American border guard to let them cross with a trailer full of gear and merchandise, the band tracked down tour founder Kevin Lyman, who rewarded their initiative with spots on a side stage he personally picks the bands for in Detroit and Milwaukee.
He couldn't offer them a spot on the tour's Cleveland stop but the band wasn't about to stop there. They showed up and found a stage to play. Over the course of three days, the band sold 400 copies of their five-song debut EP, Get Well Soon, and 100 T-shirts, including some to Face to Face, whose guitar player wore one at the Cleveland show.
"It was a pretty crazy trip," Keays says. "But we didn't really have anything to lose."